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Switch to Forum Live View How to practice Hinduism
6 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 12:06AM #1
Prajna
Posts: 1,705

I'm curious as to how someone who wasn't raised a Hindu can start to practice it.  Like what are some traditional prayers?


Namaste

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 7:36AM #2
Jm8
Posts: 784

Prajna,  welcome here. Our site is focused on Vaishnava bhakti. You may start here:


http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz/site/newtovedictradition.htm


 


Hope this helps. Hare Krishna


"This Krishna Consciousness is a science to understand what is the difference between a dead body and a living body". (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)


Your servant, bh. Jan


http://www.vrindavan-dham.com


http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 8:01AM #3
Maya3
Posts: 928

Prajna,


To practice Hinduism you really only need to open your heart and see God everywhere.


Sounds simple right ;)


But really, it doesn't matter too much how you do it, the point is to focus on God in whatever way you can and feel the most connected to.


One way is to set up a small altar in your home, put a deity or several, or no deity maybe just a symbol of OM. Symbolically offer your forms (the deities are called forms of God) water, flowers and sweets. Sit down for a while, meditate, chant a mantra or a prayer.


You can chant Hindu mantras or Christian prayers, whatever makes you feel peaceful and connected. You can also put statues of the saints on your altar, a picture of Jesus


Good luck!


Maya

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 10:18AM #4
Prajna
Posts: 1,705

Jm8,


Thanks for the link.  I'll check it out.


Maya,


That's one thing that I found very interesting about Hinudism is the universal belief that no matter who you pray to it all goes to God.   I have two statues, one of Ganesh and the other of Nataraj, that my partner picked up for me from India. i really wanted one of Krishna and Hanuman. 


How exactly does one pray to Ganesh or the other deities.  Are there set prayers?  What is the heirarchy of Hinduism?  Or is there one?  How come there isn't really a following for Brahman?


-Namaste-

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 2:39PM #5
gangajal
Posts: 835

Mar 18, 2009 -- 10:18AM, Prajna wrote:


How exactly does one pray to Ganesh or the other deities.  Are there set prayers?  What is the heirarchy of Hinduism?  Or is there one?  How come there isn't really a following for Brahman?


-Namaste-




Namaste Prajna,


     Hindus use 4 methods of worship: (1) puja, (2) prayer, (3) japa and (4) dhyana.


(1) Puja is ritualistic worship of God. There are elaborate rituals for all the major Deities. You don't have to do all those elaborate rituals. All you need to do is given in the Gita:


Whoever makes an offering to Me with devotion, be it of leaf, flower, fruit
or water - that devout offering made by a pure-hearted man, I accept with
joy. (Gita 9.26)


(2) There is no set prayer. It is up to you. Still I will give you examples of  two famous prayers of Sri Chaitanya and Sri Ramakrishna:


Sri Chaitanya's prayer

Chant the name of the Lord and His glory unceasingly
That the mirror of the heart may be wiped clean
And quench that mighty forest fire,
Wordly lust, raging furiously within.
Oh name, stream down in moonlight on the lotus heart,
Opening its cup to knowledge of thyself.
Oh self, drown deep in the waves of His bliss,
Chanting His name continually,
Tasting His nectar at every step,
Bathing in His name, that bath for weary souls.

Various are thy names, oh Lord,
In each and every name Thy power resides.
No times are set, no rites are needful, for chanting of thy name,
So vast is Thy mercy.
How huge, then is my wretchedness,
Who find, in this empty life and heart,
No devotion to Thy name!

Oh, my mind,
Be humbler than a blade of grass,
Be patient and forbearing like the tree,
Take no honor to Thyself,
Give honor to all,
Chant unceasingly the name of the Lord.

Oh, Lord and soul of the universe,
Mine is no prayer for wealth or retinue,
The playthings of lust or the toys of fame;
As many times as I may be reborn
Grant me, oh Lord, a steadfast love for Thee.

A drowning man in this world's fearful ocean
Is Thy servant, oh sweet One.
In Thy mercy
Consider him as dust beneath Thy feet.

Ah, how I long for the day
When an instant's separation from Thee, oh Govinda,
Will be as a thousand years,
When my heart burns away with its desire
And the world, without Thee, is a heartless void.

Prostrate at Thy feet let me be, in unwavering devotion,
Neither imploring the embrace of Thine arms
Nor bewailing the withdrawal of Thy presence
Though it tears my soul asunder.
Oh Thou, who stealest the hearts of Thy devotees,
Do with me what Thou wilt-
For Thou art my heart's beloved, Thou and Thou alone.

(Translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood)


Sri Ramakrishna's prayer

O Mother. I throw myself on Thy mercy;
I take shelter at Thy hallowed Feet,
Be gracious and grant that I may have Pure love for Thee,
A love unsmitten by cravings for earthly things,
Untainted by any selfish end.
A love desired by the devotee
For the sake of love alone.
And grant me the favor, O Mother,
That I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching Maya;
There is no one but Thee whom I may call my own,
Mother, I do not know how to worship,
I am without austerity,
I have neither devotion nor knowledge,
Be gracious, Mother, and out of Thy infinite mercy
Grant me love for Thy lotus Feet.

(Translated by Swami Nikhilanda)


(3) Japa is repeatation of a mantra. Every major Deity has a mantra associated with Her/Him. You will have to get a mantra from a Guru if you want to do Japa.


(4) Dhyana is mediatation.


TO BE CONTINUED

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 3:01PM #6
gangajal
Posts: 835

Question:   What is the heirarchy of Hinduism? Or is there one? How come there isn't really a following for Brahman?


Answer: The answer to your questions will depend on the particular darshana (point of view)  followed by the practicioner.


I follow the Advaita Vedanta darshana as explained by Sri Ramakrishna. I am posting a quote from him:


No one can say with finality that God is only 'this' and nothing else. He
is formless and again He has forms. For the bhakta He assumes forms. But He
is formless for the jnani, that is, for him who looks on the world as a mere
dream. The bhakta feels that he is one entity and the world as another.
Therefore God reveals Himself to him as a Person. But the jnani - the
Vedantist, for instance - always reasons, applying the process of 'Not this,
not this'. Through this discrimination he realizes, by his inner perception,
that the ego and the universe are both illusory, like a dream. Then the jnani
realizes Brahman in his own consciousness. He can not describe what Brahman
is.

Do you know what I mean? Think of Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss
Absolute, as a shoreless ocean. Through the cooling influence as it were, of
the bhakta's love, the water has frozen at places into blocks of ice. In
other words, God now and then assumes various forms for His lovers and reveals
Himself to them as a Person. But with the rising of the sun of knowledge,
the blocks of ice melt. Then one doesn't feel any more that God is a Person,
nor does one see God's forms. What He is can not be described. Who will
describe Him? He who would do so disappears. He cannot find his 'I' any more.


All the major Deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha ... may be thought of as frozen consciousnesses while Brahman is simply formless Consciousness.  In this view   Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha are merely personal aspects of Brahman. One can also think of these Forms as projections of Brahman on to the mental plane. I am posting a conversation between Sri Ramakrishna and others on this point.:


Ramdayal (to Shashadhar):"The scriptures speak of Brahman's form as a
projection of mind. Who is it that projects?"

Shashadhar:"It is Brahman Itself that does so. It is no projection of
man's mind".

Pratap:"Why does Brahman project the form?"

Sri Ramakrishna:"You ask why? Brahman doesn't act in consultation with others.
It is Brahman's pleasure. Brahman is self-willed."


Only the Personal aspects of Brahman are worshipped since it is very difficult to realize Brahman. I am posting  a conversation between Sri Ramakrishna and 'M' on this point:


M: "Sir, is there no spiritual discipline leading to realization of the
Impersonal God?"

Sri Ramakrishna:"Yes, there is. But the path is extremely difficult. After
intense austerities the rishis of olden times realized God as their innermost
consciousness and experienced the real nature of Brahman. But how hard they
had to work! They went out of their dwellings in the early morning and all
day practised austerities and meditation. Returning home at nightfall, they
took a light supper of fruit and roots.

But an aspirant cannot succeed in this form of spiritual discipline if his
mind is stained with worldliness even in the slightest degree. The mind must
withdraw totally from all objects of form, taste, smell, touch and sound.
Only thus does it become pure. The Pure mind is the same as the Pure Atman.
But such a mind must be altogether free from lust and greed. When it becomes
pure, one has another experience. One realizes:'God alone is the Doer and I
am His instrument.' One does not feel oneself to be absolutely necessary to
others either in their misery or in their happiness.


The difficulty of realizing the Impersonal Reality (Brahman) gave rise to the popularity of Bhakti Yoga where a particular from of Brahman is worshipped. Sri Ramakrishna used to strongly urge Bhakti Yoga:


Bhaktiyoga is the religion for this age. But that does not mean that the lover
of God will reach one goal and the philosopher (Jnani) and worker (Karmayogi)
another. It means that if a person seeks the knowledge of Brahman he can
attain It by following the path of Bhakti too. God, who loves His devotee,
can give him the knowledge of Brahman if He so desires.

But the Bhakta wants to realize the Personal God endowed with form and talk
to Him. He seldom seeks the knowledge of Brahman. But God, who does everything
at His pleasure, can make His devotee the heir to His infinite glories if it
pleases Him. He gives His devotee both the love of God and knowledge of
Brahman. If one is able to reach Calcutta, one can see the Maidan and the
musuem and other places too. The thing is how to reach Calcutta.


Sri Ramakrishna defined Bhakti as follows:


Bhakti is to adore God with body, mind and words. 'With body' means to
serve and worship God with one's hands, go to holy places with one's feet,
hear the chanting of the name and glories of God with one's ears, and
behold the Divine Image with one's eyes. 'With mind' means to contemplate
and meditate on God constantly and to remember and think of his lila.
"With words' means to sing hymns to Him and chant His name and glories.


Gangajal

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 4:53PM #7
gangajal
Posts: 835

Parable of the Chameleon

Listen to a story. Once a man entered a wood and saw a small animal on a tree.
He came back and told another man that he had seen a creature of a beautiful
red color on a certain tree. The second man replied:'When I went into the
wood, I also saw that animal. But why do you call it red? It is green.'
Another man who was present contradicted them both and insisted that it was
yellow. Presently others arrived and contended that it was grey, violet, blue
and so forth and so on. At last they started quarrelling among themselves. To
settle the dispute they all went to the tree. They saw a man sitting under it.
On being asked, he replied,'Yes, I live under this tree and I know the animal
very well. All your descriptions are true. Sometimes it appears red, sometimes
yellow, and at other times blue, violet, grey, and so forth. It is a
chameleon. And sometimes it has no color at all. Now it has a color  and now
it has none.'

In like manner, one who constantly thinks of God can know His real nature; he
alone knows that God reveals Himself to seekers in various forms and aspects.
God has attributes; then again He has none. Only the man who lives under the
tree knows that the chameleon can appear in various colors, and he knows,
further, that the animal at times has no colors at all. It is the others who
suffer from the agony of futile arguments.
.......

God reveals Himself in the form which His devotee loves most.


--- Sri Ramakrishna


The various forms of Brahman are also Brahman!

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 5:20PM #8
Maya3
Posts: 928

Prajna,


A prayer to Ganesh goes like this: Om Ganapataye Namaha,


You can repeat it 108 times if you want, or in sets of 9.


Ganesh is said to be especially partial to sweets.


 


Maya

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 5:39PM #9
gangajal
Posts: 835

Mar 18, 2009 -- 5:20PM, Maya3 wrote:


Prajna,


A prayer to Ganesh goes like this: Om Ganapataye Namaha,


You can repeat it 108 times if you want, or in sets of 9.


Ganesh is said to be especially partial to sweets.


 


Maya




 


Maya,


  Om Ganapataye Namaha is a mantra not a prayer. Prajna will have to take initiation from a Guru if he wants to repeat it, i.e., to do japa.


 


Gangajal

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 7:06PM #10
Maya3
Posts: 928

Gangajal,


  Om Ganapataye Namaha is a mantra not a prayer. Prajna will have to take initiation from a Guru if he wants to repeat it, i.e., to do japa.



You are correct, it's a mantra not a prayer.


I have not been taught that you have to take initiation from a guru to chant mantras.


This may very from teaching to teaching.


In fact I recently took a workshop on the Ganesh mantra and there was no mention that we could not chant it without initiation.


 


Maya

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